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The Friday Fish
This week’s haul from behind the headlines

No 24: Is there a case for wealth taxes?; Thailand’s ageing challenge; Universal basic income meets universal credit; West Africa’s double burden of malnutrition; Asia leads the STEM race but equity must keep pace

Is there a case for wealth taxes?

Only four OECD countries levied recurrent taxes on individuals’ net wealth in 2017, according to a recently published OECD report. Although there’s a strong case for addressing wealth inequality by way of taxation, there are also limited reasons for doing so through wealth taxes, the report argues.

Thailand’s ageing challenge

Thailand’s old-age dependency ratio will surpass the OECD average in 2030, reaching a figure of 26%, as the country faces an ever-more rapidly ageing population, according to UN estimates. Worryingly, only a third of the nation’s overall active labour force is currently covered by pension programmes. The OECD provides suggestions for a more robust pension system.

Universal basic income meets universal credit

As stated by Luke Martinelli, “an affordable UBI is inadequate, and an adequate UBI is unaffordable.” This OECD study compares two benefit reform scenarios: universal basic income and universal credit, using the case of Finland which had implemented the universal basic income in 2017 before voting to discontinue it in April 2018.

West Africa’s double burden of malnutrition

Some 35% of West Africa’s urban population is either overweight or obese, against 17% in rural regions, recent data shows. On the other hand, 18% of rural dwellers–and 13% of their urban counterparts–classify as underweight in the region.

This discrepancy is further aggravated by income inequality: 42% of the top wealth quintile in urban areas is overweight, while 7% of them are underweight.

Asia leads the STEM race but equity must keep pace

In an increasingly globalised labour market, 40% of all tertiary-educated adults in OECD-G20 countries come from China and India. And booming demand for STEM graduates spells good news for both, as 35% of Chinese and Indian graduates obtained a STEM degree in 2015–against an average of 15% in OECD countries. But gender equity remains an issue in this field, where the proportion of women barely exceeds one third of total graduates.

©OECD Observer June 2018